What Is the Vocative Case? (with Examples)

Our most common search themes:
apostrophe
semicolon
adjective
verb


What Is the Vocative Case? (with Examples)

The vocative case is used to indicate direct address (i.e., to show when you are talking to somebody or something directly). In English, nouns in the vocative case are offset using commas. For example:
  • I know, Stephen.
  • (Stephen is in the vocative case. As he is being addressed directly, his name is offset with a comma.)
Compare the sentence above with this one:
  • I know Stephen.
  • (There is no comma here. Stephen is now the direct object of the verb know.)

More Examples of the Vocative Case

Here are some more examples of nouns in the vocative case (shaded):
  • Where have you been, Charlie?
  • Jonathan, do not forget your shower gel.
  • And that, your Honor, concludes our case.
  • Do me a favour, Kev, and ask Tim to stop bleating about the wind.
  • I've met your sister, Simon.
The vocative case applies to nouns and noun phrases. It is used most frequently with proper nouns (the specific names of things, e.g., Simon, Rover), but it is also used with common nouns (names for things, e.g., man, dog). For example:
  • Where have you been, you little adventurer?
  • (The word adventurer is a common noun. The term you little adventurer is a noun phrase, i.e., a group of words playing the role of a noun.)
 
 
BEWARE OF COMMA RUN-ON ERRORS

When a sentence ends with a word in the vocative case, be sure to end your sentence properly before starting a new one. For example:
  • Take it from me, dear, it's not true.
  • Take it from me, dear. It's not true.
Read more about comma run-on errors.


More Free Help...

All the lessons and tests on Grammar Monster are free. Here's some more free help:

Follow Us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Facebook
by Craig Shrives Follow us on Google+
mail tip Sign up for our daily tip emails
Chat about grammar Ask a grammar question
Search Search this site

Buy Some Help...

Too busy to read everything on Grammar Monster? Here are the paid services we recommend to learn grammar and to keep your writing error free:

Paste your text into Grammarly's online interface for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Press F2 while using Word, PowerPoint, etc., for corrections and recommendations. (Free trial available)

Send your text to a trained editor and grammar geek for checking. (Free trial available)

Learn English (or another language) with a state-of-the-art program. (Free trial available)

Buy Our Book...

Buy "Grammar Rules: Writing with Military Precision" by Craig Shrives (founder of Grammar Monster).


More info...